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Old 09-27-08, 10:54 AM   #1
bluenote157
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are all merino wools made the same??

I have a banana republic merino wool crew knit sweater that I no longer use. After reading about all of the great properties of wool, I was wondering if this would be adequate as a base layer of some sort?

thanks!
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Old 09-27-08, 02:25 PM   #2
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Don't see why not. Wool is wool assuming it's 100%.

I hit the thrift store the other day and walked out with 3 wool shirts in various thickness and a nice wool sweater-all for 13 bucks.
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Old 09-28-08, 07:55 AM   #3
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I think it would be a great way to re-use something. And if it's Merino it should make a great layer in the right conditions.

The only downside I could think of is that the sleeves or the back might be kind of short for cycling, but I say try it and see. You have little to lose and it might end up being one of your favorite pieces.
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Old 09-28-08, 09:52 AM   #4
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Depends on the weight of the cloth. I find that very light weight merino wool makes a good base layer but then I live in Seattle, not Minneapolis.
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Old 09-28-08, 03:46 PM   #5
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yeah.. i'm thinking base layer as well.. thanks!
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Old 09-28-08, 04:09 PM   #6
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Like many wool makes me itch.
One cheaper merino wool jersey still makes me itch a bit. Smartwool does not.
I would assume it to be the difference in quality between the two.
My 2 cents.
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Old 09-28-08, 04:11 PM   #7
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Yes and No.

Merino wool is good, very good. Try it as a baselayer. You may be impressed as I am with it.

That said the REI "just like Smartwool" socks I got for Christmas on year gave me blisters where my Smartwools did not.

Just my 2.
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Old 09-28-08, 05:12 PM   #8
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Like many wool makes me itch.
One cheaper merino wool jersey still makes me itch a bit. Smartwool does not.
I would assume it to be the difference in quality between the two.
Many people have issues with wool products.

1. Some commercially produced wools are from nasty fleeces that are full of plant fibers. The manufacturer uses chemicals to dissolve the plant fibers but keep the wool. Some people are sensitive to this.

2. Smartwool has a "superwash" treatment applied to it. This alters the wool fibers so there are no "hooks", and thus it can't felt any more. Some people are sensitive to the "hooks" and when they're removed, they find the wool isn't itchy anymore. (there at least two superwash treatments that I know of, and there is at least one breed of wool that is naturally superwash...) I'm also aware of some people who react to the superwash treatment. So this one can go either way.

3. Most commercial hand-knitting yarn (and at least some machine knitting yarn) has a permanent mothproofing treatment applied to it. This can give people reactions.

4. Some people are very sensitive to fiber diameter or fiber texture. Since wool is a natural fiber, the fiber diameter and texture varies. If you're one of the sensitive types, you will notice this.

5. Some people have an actual reaction to wool itself. Pretty rare.

6. Some people have an actual reaction to lanolin (a moisturizing agent that sheep produce, and that is left in some kinds of wool yarn). Fairly common. If you also react badly to a wide variety of hand lotions, this may be your problem.

7. Some people are very suggestible, and since common wisdom says "wool is itchy"... they find it itchy. (this was me for a long time)

8. A wool that is otherwise ok can be spun firmly so that it feels coarse. Some folks find this itchy. (this is so me sometimes)

I'm sure there are other reasons why one might find a given wool itchy... these are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head as a handspinner. And of course any given person can have more than one affecting them. If you're *quite* sure that #5 isn't the problem, it can be enlightening to poke at the itching judiciously. There's a whole lot of personal taste involved.

(and yes, I use lots of thrifted wool sweaters as a keep warm layer. hard to spin and knit fast enough to keep myself in sweaters )
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Old 09-29-08, 09:25 AM   #9
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u mean from sheep ?

the best base layer is thin silk doesn't everyone know that come on ! it is like
warmer than wool, so you can wear it thinner, and is warm when wet...yaddayaddayadda
all the properties of wool without the itch or reaction. you can bunch up tights and a shirt
into a standard baggie and keep it in a pocket

thin base layer=silk. wool for the rest. a shell on top. presto....best wintar ever
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Old 10-08-08, 08:01 PM   #10
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If the sweater doesn't quite fit right while riding, you can always cut it up and sew a balaclava or a cap out of it.
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Old 10-09-08, 09:37 AM   #11
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No they are not all the same. I have a long sleeve shirt made by Ibex and it is buttery soft and never itchy. I also have a less expensive long sleeve shirt made by some generic brand from Backcountry.com and while it is also soft(not as soft as the Ibex) it is noticeably itchy. Not unbearably so as some wool sweaters are that I have worn but noticeably so.

In general, I would probably in the future just save my money and buy from Ibex or Icebreaker.
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Old 10-11-08, 01:37 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by 127.0.0.1 View Post
u mean from sheep ?

the best base layer is thin silk doesn't everyone know that come on ! it is like
warmer than wool, so you can wear it thinner, and is warm when wet...yaddayaddayadda
all the properties of wool without the itch or reaction. you can bunch up tights and a shirt
into a standard baggie and keep it in a pocket

thin base layer=silk. wool for the rest. a shell on top. presto....best wintar ever
Hmmm, I have one silk t-neck and one smartwool t-shirt. Both light base layers. The silk gets damp from sweat and I get chilled, the wool is warmer when damp. Same rides same distance, same outer layers, etc. YMMV
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Old 10-11-08, 05:48 AM   #13
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"
Merino wool is generally less than 24 micron (m) in diameter. Basic Merino types include: strong (broad) wool 23-24.5 m, medium wool is 19.6-22.9 m, fine 18.6-19.5 m, superfine 15-18.5 m and ultra fine 11.5-15 m[3]."

For a base layer next to the skin, merino should be superfine grade to avoid itching. Mid-layer sweaters can use coarser grades. I wouldnt use a mid-outer layer merino next to the skin.
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Old 10-15-08, 10:22 AM   #14
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As mentioned there are differences in Merino wool grades, most relate to comfort (itchyness) next to skin and thickness (warmth). I've picked up several Merino underlayers from thrift and ebay and they work great (including a Banana Republic). Usually the sleeves are a little short, but with 35"+ arms I get that with a lot of tops. Shortness in sleeves or back doesn't bother me much as I usually have another jersey on top and long cuffs on my winter gloves.
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Old 10-15-08, 11:24 AM   #15
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been cycling for the last 3 weeks in an icebreaker merino wool undershirt a button down cotton shirt and a beat up ol dcashmere sweater. I have ridden in temps from 5 C to 20 C.

Rides ranging from 6 to 50 km.

I wear the same undershirt all week long. I have no issues with itch or stink.

The cashmere is very thin, yet very warm and even softer than the merino.

i am set on wool.

I will be slowling replacing all my cotton and polypro with wool!

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